History of the Association
Oral History Project: Voices of the Past
Jo Anne Boorkman, AHIP, FMLA, grew up in Long Beach, California, and graduated from Scripps College with a major in biology. She earned her master’s degree in library science in 1971 from the University of Illinois, where she took biomedical library courses and a summer medical reference class in Chicago. Her early interests and training led to a career in medical libraries.
A dinner with Louise Darling resulted in a job offer at the University of California–Los Angeles Biomedical Library, and Boorkman’s first position as bibliographic search analyst in the Pacific Southwest Regional Medical Library. She began her tenure immediately, with a three-month MEDLARS training class (six weeks of training in MeSH and indexing and six weeks of supervised searching) at the National Library of Medicine, just before NLM transitioned to AIM-TWX and to online searching. At UCLA she was involved in the first MEDLINE training classes for librarians conducted at the Regional Medical library. She worked at the Biomedical Library from 1971 to 1977, where she advanced to assistant head of the reference division.
Boorkman next moved cross-country to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Health Sciences Library, where she served as head of public services, 1977–1981, and head of collections development, 1981–1984, and worked for another influential library director, Sam Hitt. She helped the transition to a new model of staffing for public services and statewide library communication for the North Carolina AHEC program. Her transfer to collection development began a career-long interest in selection from the perspective of public services.
She returned to California and spent the rest of her career at the University of California–Davis, where she was head of public services, 1985–1988, and head, Carlson Health Sciences Library, 1988–2008, and expanded her expertise to veterinary medicine.
Her achievements included encouraging staff in their professional development and serving as chair of the Health and Life Sciences Selectors in the California Digital Library. She also moved beyond the library in several positions to advise academic personnel on campus.
Boorkman is known for Introduction to Reference Sources in the Health Sciences, an important and successful text that she and Fred W. Roper initiated, which was first published by the Medical Library Association in 1980. Boorkman coedited five editions, through 2008, mentoring numerous authors and editors.
She also coauthored the bibliography of reference sources for animal health and veterinary medicine for The Literature of the Agricultural Sciences.
Her first MLA meeting was at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego in 1972.
Boorkman was elected to the MLA Board of Directors, 1988–1991, and three nominating committees. She was part of the initial planning for the Collection Development Section and served as section chair.
She was chair of the Certification Examination Review Committee and the Task Force on Certification and Registry, which recommended a new structure for certification that led to the Academy of Health Information Professionals. She was associate chair of the 2002 National Program Committee for the Dallas meeting. Her first involvement in the Special Libraries Association at the national level was election to chair the Biomedical and Life Sciences Division (Biological Sciences Division at the time). She worked on the relationship of medical librarians to SLA and served as representative between MLA and SLA.
Boorkman was recognized as Fellow by MLA in 1999 and by SLA in 2000. She believed in the value of professional contributions at all levels and was chair of the MLA Mid-Atlantic Chapter and president of the Northern California and Nevada Medical Group.
Medical Library Association
Last Updated: 2012 July 30